Royal Cornwall Hospitals among the six sites recognised for best practice by the Acute Frailty Network

A new Nursing & Therapies study for the Acute Frailty Network has recognised Royal Cornwall Hospitals as one of the six major sites across the country to have achieved best practice in improving services for frail older people.
RCHT first joined the Acute Frailty Network (AFN) in January 2016. Since that time, Consultant Nurse for Older People and Associate Chief Nurse Frazer Underwood has led an inter-professional project team, comprising a consultant geriatrician, commissioners, community partners, nurses, therapists, GPs and the local ambulance service. “The project team met every two weeks for a whole year to constantly assess progress and drive forward change”, explains Frazer.

“No extra time or resources were allocated to the project, but everyone involved, from commissioners to clinicians, were totally committed to pushing it forward. People have taken a real interest in this project because they believe it is the right thing to do for our patients. We have achieved a notable level of inter-professional working and inclusivity, which has contributed hugely to our success.”

Frazer continues; “We made the case to our executive sponsor that correctly identifying and streaming frail older patients would support the hospital’s wider aims of tackling overcrowding and addressing patient flow problems. The proportion of older people here in Cornwall is 12% higher than the national average. We are also subject to wide variations in the frail elderly population due to high visitor numbers to our region. As a Trust we are committed to making the necessary improvements to bring about sustained and lasting change.”

Among the main objectives of the team were to establish an acute frailty facility, to create early supported discharge pathways and to reduce admissions by bringing the frailty team closer to the front door. “To be able to make a difference to frail patients, we need to identify them early and make decisions quicker,” said Frazer. “We believed that having access to the patient information systems of other organisations, such as mental health and social services, would enable us to build a more detailed picture of the patient quickly. We moved our two frailty clinical nurse specialists into the Emergency Departments to access and use this information. This has delivered real benefits for older people with frailty in quicker early discharge decisions and reduced length of stay.”

To find out more about the Acute Frailty Network and the other local developments please read the document in full, visit

Added on September 4, 2017, in Award - Awards and Achievements / Medicine / Patient Experience